This week seems to be the week to blog about small presses, and seeing so many posts brought something to my mind. I’ve always considered Pelican Book Group to be a small press—as I’m sure most people do—but what exactly makes a small press a small press? Is it the size of its catalogue, number of employees, the benefits and drawbacks of being published by said press, or is it strictly the annual revenue generated (and is any of that good or bad)? As I pondered these things, I decided to do a comparison of what large publishers do and what this small press (Pelican Book Group) does.

 

Large Publisher

Pelican Book Group

Offers advances, royalties, and a publishing contract that is fair to all parties

YES

YES

Does not charge authors for publication, and does not try to recoup costs of publishing before calculating payment to authors

YES

YES

Pays royalties on time

YES

YES

Books are distributed by a reputable, experienced distributor who can get the books into online and brick-and-mortar stores

YES

YES

Books are returnable

YES

YES

Offers professional multi-step and multi-level editing

YES

YES

Produces quality product (covers and interiors)

YES

YES

Spends thousands of dollars per year on advertising and marketing

YES

YES

Offers co-op advertising to authors

YES

YES

Employs a publicist

YES

YES

Expects the author to actively participate in marketing

YES

YES

Is regularly represented at key book fairs such as Frankfurt, London, BEA

YES

YES

Seeks subsidiary rights deals via in-house or third-party agents

YES

YES

Has a sales force that actively calls on retailers and wholesalers.

YES

YES

Invests in print runs

YES

YES

Employs the use of POD to keep books in print

YES

YES

Produces and distributes e-book versions

YES

YES

Takes a chance on authors who have no platform or proven record

RARELY

OFTEN

Considers the revenue earned by previous books before offering subsequent contracts

OFTEN

NEVER

Author is given direct communication to the company owner

RARELY

ALWAYS

 

Finally, one thing that Pelican Book Group does that I think not only is exceptional for a business in any industry, but is also something important to the stability of our authors: We operate in the black. We don’t bet on future sales, we don’t borrow capital that could potentially upend the company if earnings don’t pan out. We rely on God to provide the means for us to do all we do. We’ve been doing it for over five years (we’re still in infancy!) and we’ll continue to do it for as long as God wills it.

So, to any author out there who’s looking for a home for a manuscript: Don’t judge a publisher by the size of its wallet (There are plenty of examples of major publishers having financial issues); don’t judge a publisher by the number of its employees—or from where those employees work. (Quality always prevails over quantity and “location” only matters in retail. Major companies use employees who telecommute; Dell’s first computers were produced by Michael Dell in his college dorm room; Nike was initially run out of the trunk of a car; and Joyce Meyer Ministries started as a weekly meeting in one church.); DO judge a publisher by how well you as an author are respected; by the publishing benefits offered by the publisher; by the level of professionalism, integrity, honesty and reliability of the company (and if it’s a Christian company, as is Pelican, then also judge by how well that Christianity shines through). Integrity, honesty, reliability and professionalism should be present no matter what company you do business with: Large, medium, small; start-up or established.

Bottom line is: Don’t let preconceived ideas or prejudice have any part in your career path. Strive for greatness always, but don’t attain it at the expense of goodness and right. Listen to wise counsel, but follow your gut. You and only you know what your goals are. If you’re Christian, then rely on Him to guide you. And above all, enjoy the journey because life is too precious and too short to wallow in worry or regret.

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